Friday Fun Fact #3: Only 2% to 10% of containers are inspected

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Hello and welcome to our third post on curious shipping facts! We’ve told you about shipping accounting for 90% of world trade and the exorbitant prices of building a ship. This time, we go deeper into the ocean freight industry!

Only 2% to 10% of containers worldwide undergo inspection

Only 5% of all containers shipped to US ports are physically inspected. That figure is estimated to be lower in Europe! And people wonder why we’re having trouble eliminating drug trafficking!

Despite this outrageously low statistic, you should still take extra precaution to fill out your packing list accuratelyUS Customs and Border Protection has the right to examine any imported shipment. If that’s not frustrating enough, you, as the shipper, have to bear the cost of these inspections.

In fact, it’s easier to list why your container may be tagged for inspection than why it wouldn’t. Here are a few:

  • If you’re a virgin importer, US Customs may inspect your first few shipments to establish credibility
  • If the weight of your container doesn’t correspond to the packing list
  • If you ship cargo that requires special permits

If you’re unlucky enough to have your container held for a check, do note that the time frame for inspection very much depends on the severity of the risk assessment. This means you face a risk of cargo delays, which then leads to shipping delay charges.

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How can I prevent my container from being inspected?

Well, there’s no way to guarantee your container can escape the lottery of random checks. Just ensure you do everything according to the books and hope for the best. Good luck!

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